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Should I be worried about my child's anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common emotional problem in children. Children and adolescents can develop crippling worries about many things, from germs to vomiting to their parents dying. Some anxious children and adolescents are painfully shy and avoid things that other children and adolescents enjoy, some have tantrums and meltdowns, and others develop elaborate rituals, like compulsive hand washing, aimed at diminishing the fear.

If you or your child’s fears are persistent, overly intense, or begin interfering with daily life, it might be time to seek help.

Signs that fear maybe something more includes:

  • Obsessive worrying: You or your child fixates on the object of his fear, thinking or talking about it often, or even when the trigger isn’t present. For example, becoming terribly anxious months before the next dentist visit.

  • Fears that limit you or your child’s ability to enjoy her life or participate in activities. For example, refusing to go on a trip to the park because there might be dogs there.

  • Intense, specific fears that cause impairment. Signs of severe anxiety like panic attacks, compulsive or disruptive behavior, or withdrawing from activities, school or family. If you or your child’s fears seem like they might be something more serious, make an appointment with a professional to see if more help is necessary.

For Parents - Concerns: Services

My child never pays attention. My child is hyperactive and impulsive. Is that ADHD?

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find it unusually difficult to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention, to sit still, and to control impulsive behavior. Some children with ADHD exhibit mostly inattentive behaviors and others predominantly hyperactive and impulsive. But the majority of those with ADHD have a combination of both, which can make it very difficult for them to function in school and create a lot of conflict at home.

Studies show that intervention for children and adolescents with ADHD tends to be less effective when a caregiving parent has ADHD, too. Several studies have demonstrated that ADHD symptoms in adults differ considerably from those in children. More than 90 percent of adults with ADHD have attention issues, including difficulty with planning, follow-through, organization, and time management. Treating the ADHD that’s underlying their problems would benefit both them and their children. There’s still a good deal of stigma and a lack of understanding surrounding adults with ADHD.

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Issues with Behavior and Conduct?

Children with these disorders have problems with control of their emotions and behavior. While all children are occasionally unable to control their impulses, these children have unusual difficulty for their age, resulting in behavior that violates the rights of others and/or brings them into conflict with authority figures.

When parents consider behavior issues, one phrase tends to jump out: oppositional defiant disorder. Whether your child has oppositional defiant disorder (or ODD) or not, learning about behavior management strategies used in treatment are evidence-based techniques that all parents will benefit from knowing.

What distinguishes ODD from normal oppositional behavior is how severe it is, and how long it has been going on. A child with ODD will have had extreme behavior issues for at least six months. Another hallmark of ODD is the toll it takes on family relationships. Regular daily frustrations — ignored commands, arguments, explosive outbursts — build up over time, and these negative interactions damage the parent-child bond and reinforce hostile patterns of behavior.

For Parents - Concerns: Services

Is this more than my child being moody, could they be depressed?

All children and adolescents have their ups and downs, but if you or your child is unusually irritable, sad or withdrawn for a prolonged period of time you may be showing signs of depression. Depression is more than moodiness — it can affect all parts of life, including behavior, appetite, energy level, sleep patterns, relationships, and academic performance.

Getting treatment for depression can feel daunting. Often the depression itself gets in the way. A person who is depressed might be feeling overwhelmed, tired and hopeless. They might also be unfairly blaming themselves or their circumstances for the way they feel. These are some of the characteristic symptoms and thoughts that accompany depression, and they can make it hard for someone who’s depressed to speak up and ask for help.

Treatment can help children, adolescents, or adults struggling with depression. The kind of treatment recommended for your child will depend on her symptoms and preferences, and the expertise of her clinician.

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Is it normal to question Sexual Orientation During Adolescence?

Adolescence is a period when people separate from their parents and families and begin to develop autonomy. Adolescence can be a period of experimentation, and many youths may question their sexual feelings. Becoming aware of sexual feelings is a normal developmental task of adolescence. Sometimes adolescents have same-sex feelings or experiences that cause confusion about their sexual orientation. This confusion appears to decline over time, with different outcomes for different individuals. Therapy can often help alleviate the stress and anxiety that may come with this period of growth.

For Parents - Concerns: Services

Social Skills - Can they be learned?

Social skills are the building blocks of social interaction. If you have social anxiety, you may have missed out on developing some of these important skills. However, you can always learn them no matter your age. Social skills training (SST) is a type of behavior therapy used to improve social skills like assertiveness, nonverbal communication, and verbal communication.

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Stress and Resilience what do they have to do with my child's future?

We want our children to be successful, but we also know that learning how to rebound from failure is an important part of developing a healthy, self-confident outlook.

Not learning to tolerate failure can leave children feeling vulnerable or anxious. When the inevitable failure does occur, whether it happens in preschool or college, it may create an unnecessary hurdle or reaction. Distress or frustration tolerance is an important life skill to master. Building that skill set is necessary for children and adolescents to be able to become more independent and succeed in future endeavors, whether it’s personal goals, academic goals, or just learning how to effectively deal with other people.

If a child can’t function because of a fear of failure, therapy may be a good option.

For Parents - Concerns: Services
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